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Conquering Roads

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Conquering Roads

Published 1937

Highway engineering and development in the pre-Interstate era.

Run time 8:48
Producer Handy (Jam) Organization
Sponsor Chevrolet Division, General Motors Corporation
Audio/Visual Sd, B&W



"The common everyday spectacle of modern traffic on roads that are as out of date as the covered wagon."
"Roads that are not so modern as the traffic they carry cause congestion. Congested city streets hinder and delay the movement of traffic. Cause confusion at busy, crowded corners. The careful driver realizes that he cannot drive on out-of-date roads in the same way that he can safely drive on our finest highways."
Conestoga wagon on modern road;
cars driving on muddy, dirt roads through puddles.
railroad crossing sign; racing cars; detour signs; large road building machinery; road grader;
passing lanes; aerials of highways; Parkways; cloverleafs
"Curves have been scientifically banked to make the car hold the road easily. . . lighting experts have contributed their study of the problem of lighting street intersections."
"In the city . . . advances in road construction bring about savings in time and the elimination of trouble."
"Every such advance in road construction makes possible greater accessibility of the farms with greater freedom for tourists and trailers. Heavy trucks are able to move on the highways without interfering with other traffic."
overhead bridges as solutions to traffic crossings;
visual of the network of roads and underpasses leading to the George Washington Bridge. GW bridge approach. excellent shot of George Washington Bridge.
suspension bridge; Triborough Bridge (New York City); Randall's Island (NYC); Pulaski Aerial Skyway (from Jersey City to Newark); highway in Alexandria, Louisiana; VS cloverleaf interchanges
"Throughout the United States the American public has shown its interest in the work of improving the highways. We must all encourage the road builders of today who have given us new roads on the ground, contributing so much to public safety. New roads over the ground adding to the usefulness of the entire road system. New roads under the water saving time for the motorist. And new roads over the water to keep America's safety record the finest in the world."
[pretty sure there's a good shot of the Kosciusko Bridge in Brooklyn, New York]

worth noting: Nice image of chaotic traffic making its way towards an overpass. Very industrial areaÑeither Newark or Jersey City. The cars seem to have no clear lanes (there's clearly a need for better roads). We see water towers in the distance.(10:34:21:03- 10:34:27:10)

¥ 10:35:22:03- 10:35:35:28
Three shots showing traffic in Manhattan. The first show pedestrians walking across a street. On the other side of them is a line of traffic. Cut to a low angle shot of traffic moving slowly. Cut to an overview of a wider street (looks like it may be leading to one of the bridges) scattered with confused cars. There are no clear lanes or traffic signs.

worth noting: Cars move along a wide parkway with newly paved roads. One car turns at a median.(10:37:35:02- 10:37:43:08)

worth noting: Aerial view of cars driving along new wide road (with a median in the center) by a lake. We see boats in the water.(10:38:15:22- 10:38:20:28)

worth noting: Aerial view of a traffic circle (perfectly shaped) and roads branching from it. Cars move fluidly around it.(10:38:48:28- 10:38:55:14)

worth noting: Excellent driving POV across a small bridge. The camera turns and we view the highway beneath the bridge where one cars drives by. Beyond the car we see what look like mobile homes. (10:39:22:12- 10:39:28:15)

worth noting: Nice aerial shot of a train moving quickly across an overpass. The camera is shaky.(10:39:42:05- 10:39:49:02)

¥ 10:40:43:05- 10:40:55:12
Nice aerial view of a car moving along a highway (looks like it's in fast motion). We stay with the car as it goes beneath underpasses.

¥ 10:40:55:14- 10:41:12:28
Aerial view of a highway in New Jersey (?). There are several rows of large homes which look brand new (they look like the new rich suburban enclosed communities). We pass a large school.



Reviewer: daves_not_here - favoritefavoritefavorite - December 29, 2008
Subject: Another GM propaganda vehicle...
The road-building industry...yet one more dependent of the automobile industry. This is definitely a piece of propaganda, but still worth downloading.

I love the sweeping pronouncements: "Roads have been engineered to be as safe as the modern automobile" (probably safer I'm thinking)... "advances in road construction have brought about the savings of time, and the elimination of trouble"(what type of trouble is that--being late or accidents?)... "modern bridges are build wide enough, and strong enough to carry traffic streams far heavier than than the average road" and my favorite... "the modern bridge like the tri-borough will do away with the bottleneck of traffic and free drivers from delay over miles of approaching road"(wow, grid lock is a thing of the past, oh, wait, gridlock hasn't been invented yet)

I think in the case of this one, it's not really the dated narration, or the obvious jingoistic value to GM that makes it worth watching.
This is worth downloading and watching if you are into construction techniques, early automobiles, and seeing those really cool tractors with the studded metal wheels.
The scene where, in New Jersey, they're using firehoses to widen huge sections of road to make a parkway design, is definitely cool to see.
Aerial shots of highways, and a number of them of famous bridges.

Love that shot at the end of the armada of GM sedans driving across the bridge.
Too bad they weren't still making promos like this, they might not need to get bailed-out.

I think I can only give this a 3+1/2 because it is on the boring side, very 50's kitsch, without the fun of being camp. And, as stated, it is a GM propaganda film.
Reviewer: Christine Hennig - favoritefavoritefavorite - December 29, 2003
Subject: I Didn't Know the Roads Were Against Us
This 30s Jam Handy film talks about the improvements in roads that have had to be made to keep up with innovations in cars. Divided highways, rotary traffic circles, railroad trestles, and cloverleaf junctions are particularly highlighted. This is a good historical record of the evolution of roads in the first half of the 20th century, and the breezy Jam Handy style makes it more interesting than it might be.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Reviewer: Spuzz - favoritefavoritefavorite - April 7, 2003
Subject: Planes, Trains & Automobiles
Somewhat blah/interesting (I can't make up my mind) short about roads. The film starts with how roads came to be, and the history of the highway (joy!). Soon, the film discusses the problems of traffic, and what needs to be done (cloverleafs, tunnels bridges). All these solutions, and what do we have?..... more traffic ;)
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